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Honoring a life cut short by breast cancer

Megan Lally Memorial Fund check Nov 2012

Members of the Megan Lally Memorial Fund presented
a check to the Cancer Center in November 2012.

Posted: March 2013 | Updated: March 2014

When Megan Lally died of breast cancer in September 2011, just before her 31st birthday, six of her friends and family members banded together to honor her too-short life.

“We wanted to remember her in a way she’d love and be proud of,” said Terri Sacco, who met Megan when they attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “And we wanted to raise money for research so, hopefully, someone else wouldn’t have to leave their family at such a young age.

“She was big into running,” Sacco continued, explaining what inspired their fundraising idea. “We did a lot of running events together where there was music and beer at the end, to celebrate after all the work.”

So in the months following Megan’s death, Sacco, Megan’s husband David “Rusty” Gray, high school friends Victoria Bartley and Sarah and Alex Fanous, and WPI classmate John Digiacomo sought to create a similar event.

They established the Megan Lally Memorial Fund and organized and promoted “Run Like an Antelope,” a 5K run and one-mile fun walk around Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester, Mass., to raise money for metastatic breast cancer research. To further support the event, they enlisted sponsorships from local businesses and solicited donations for silent auction and raffle items.

On October 14, 2012, a little more than a year after Megan’s death, the inaugural event attracted nearly 400 participants. Post-race live music was provided by Antelope All Stars, a band that covers songs by the popular group Phish, one of Megan’s favorite bands and whose song, “Run Like an Antelope,” inspired the event’s name. The beer available at the finish line was donated by a local brewery. At the end of the day, $26,000 was raised, with $21,000 being donated to the UMass Memorial Cancer Center of Excellence to support metastatic breast cancer research being conducted there.

“Megan would have had a blast at the event, and I think she’d be very proud of us,” Sacco said. “She’d also be happy that we donated to UMass because that’s the hospital where she was treated and they were wonderful to her. They really care about their patients and they’re doing great work.

“It’s sad that she’s not here but, given the situation, this is the best way we could have honored her,” she added. “Through this event, we want to keep remembering Megan, celebrating her life and making her proud.”

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Story published in the Spring 2013 edition of the Your UMass medicine newsletter (pdf) and the 2013 Annual Report of Donors (pdf).

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